Discover Kerala & the Tropical South Tour

Our Kerala and the Tropical South tours are one of the most wonderful ways to experience India for the first time. Kerala is India’s green and peaceful state; a land of undulating tea plantations, sprawling spice gardens, golden beaches and quaint fishing villages. This ten-day Kerala tour provides the perfect combination of natural splendour, historical intrigue and city roaming, introducing you to all that is great and glorious in Southern India.

Unfolding along India’s South Coast, Kerala conjures a dazzling palette of greens, from the emerald patchworks of the tea plantations, to the deep greens of the Western Ghat mountains and the murky shades of the languid backwaters. Once you embark on your Kerala tour, you’ll soon understand why this part of India is called “God’s own country.”

A diverse natural wonderland, each day brings a new setting for your adventures. Discover crumbling colonial architecture, wander breezy hill stations and hike through lush forests. Enjoy the laid-back pace of this part of India, a contrast to cities like Mumbai or Delhi. Highlights of our Kerala itinerary include a night spent aboard a traditional houseboat, cruising the tropical backwaters; taste bud tingling cuisine wherever you roam; and the chance to spot wild elephants and tigers in the jungle.

Experts in tour holidays, with years of expertise in crafting incredible South India itineraries, join a Hayes & Jarvis tour for the trip of a lifetime. Expect thought and inspiration in every detail, from the moment you land to your final departure. Join us for an adventure in one of the most scenic and serene parts of the world.

Duration
10 days
Best time to go
November - March
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Traditional houseboat

Trip highlights

  • Stay overnight on a houseboat, cruising Alleppey’s picturesque, palm-fringed backwaters
  • Roam Cochin, discovering the city’s iconic landmarks, including the Chinese Fishing Nets and Mantacherry Palace

You’ll arrive in Cochin (Kochi) and be met at the airport, where you’ll be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day can be enjoyed at your own pace. Relax in your deluxe suite at the Crown Plaza Hotel or venture out into Cochin to explore the city. You may like to begin your adventure in Indian style, sampling some of the region’s classic - and delightful - Keralan fish curry.

Your Kerala tour begins with a discovery of Cochin’s most fascinating and iconic landmarks, providing insights into the city’s rich and varied history. The buildings found in Cochin have impressions of Portuguese, British and Dutch architectural-styles - the result of its commercial importance and experiences of colonialism.

You’ll visit the white-washed walls of the crumbling Dutch Palace - Mattancherry; the gilded-interiors of the Jewish Synagogue; the impressive Santa Cruz Basilica-Cathedral; and the St. Francis Church - one of India’s oldest European churches. Perched along the coastline, contemplate Kochi’s iconic Chinese Fishing Nets, introduced by Chinese traders in the fourteenth-century and still in use today. The tour ends in Fort Kochi, home to a spread of Dutch and Portuguese buildings, some over 500 years-old. Spend the evening enjoying traditional Keralan entertainment, watching a spectacular Kathalaki Dance - with elaborate costumes, local folk tales and energetic drummers, dancers and musicians.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Crown Plaza Hotel

After breakfast, the tour leaves Cochin, driving to the rolling hills and stretching spice gardens of Munnar. A four-five hour drive takes you to your resort in Munnar, the luxury Fragrant Nature Hotel. Savour views of mist-cloaked mountains, breathe in the fresh mountain air and indulge in an Ayurvedic massage at the elegant spa. You may even spend the evening in your suite in front of a blazing fire.

Munnar is Kerala’s verdant hill station, a landscape of rippling tea plantations and purple mountain ridges - green and glorious. This region is South India’s largest tea-growing area, and here you’ll learn all about how these tea plantations have flourished over the years and the different uses of the tea plants. Tea-lovers will be delighted by a trip to the Tea Museum, which models a working tea factory and has a collection of fascinating relics from the British era - including old photographs and machinery.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Fragrant Nature Hotel

South India is known for its abundance of wildlife sanctuaries and exotic creatures - particularly up in the reaches of the Western Ghats - and Periyar is where you’ll experience this first-hand. The Kerala tour departs Munnar after breakfast and a three-four hour drive - where breathtaking scenery unfolds in every direction - transports you to Periyar, in the hills near Thekkady. This lush region is home to a wide array of protected wildlife, unique flora and fauna and endless chains of spice-scented plantations. Spend the rest of the day at leisure in the gorgeous settings of the boutique Spice Village Hotel, a sanctuary in the midst of tropical forest.

Today brings jungle adventures and the chance to spot some of nature’s most mesmerising creatures. Wandering a spice plantation, you’ll learn about the myriad varieties of spices growing in this region - including cardamom, clove, ginger, vanilla and coffee - and the various uses of the healing plants. 95% of the pepper in India is grown in Periyar.

The afternoon takes you deep into Periyar’s wildlife sanctuary on a jungle hike. One of India’s most well-known sanctuaries, follow the trails through dense jungle, discovering the colourful flora and fauna and appreciating the rich biodiversity of the region. Luck providing, you’ll spot herds of wild elephants and lumbering bisons bathing in Periyar Lake, circled overhead by flocks of exotic birds. Periyar was declared India’s first tiger reserve in 1934 and majestic tigers, wild boars and langur monkeys all call this area home.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Spice Village Hotel
Traditional houseboat

The next adventure on your incredible Kerala itinerary is in Alleppey - a night aboard a traditional Keralan houseboat. After a four ½ hour drive from Periyar, you’ll embark, settle in and spend the rest of the day soaking in the wonderful scenes of Kerala’s famous backwaters. The houseboat will cruise the intricate network of canals and streams, tropical wonder and palm-fringed beauty greeting you at every turn. Lounge on the deck, enjoy hot chai and snacks and bask in an unparalleled sunset. Your houseboat provides every comfort of the modern world, with air-conditioned rooms, comfortable beds and delicious on-board meals.

Bidding farewell to the houseboat, your morning will be spent moored up in Kumarakom, nestled on the banks of Vembanad Lake. This is a bird-lovers utopia, with countless local and migratory birds dancing among the forest canopy. Vembanad Lake is a twisting web of channels, streams and distributaries, fringed by stretching palms and coconut groves. In Kumarakom, you’ll be staying at the Coconut Lagoon, situated on the backwater canals and reached by a traditional wooden canoe. Greeted by incredibly picturesque settings, relax in a beautiful, wooden bungalow and dine amongst glittering paddy fields.

This day of your Kerala and South India tour can be spent however you like. Wander the tropical grounds of Coconut Lagoon and join bird-watching activities to learn about the local biodiversity. Sit by the lake with a book or take to the spa to indulge in an Ayurvedic massage or other herbal treatment. At dusk, you can join a lakeside yoga session, followed by a gourmet dinner at one of the restaurants. The perfect time to reflect on all of the incredible experiences of your Kerala tour, before you begin your journey home.

Your spectacular South India tour comes to an end! A transfer will take you to Cochin airport - a two-three hour drive - where you’ll board your onward or return flight from Kerala. Alternatively, the journey can continue with an extended beach stay in the golden stretches of Kovalam or Mararikulam.

Included

  • Superior accommodation (single/twin/double/triple) for a total of 09 nights (alternative but similar hotels may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Meals: a room with included breakfast at all locations, except the Alleppey Houseboat which is full-board
  • Private air-conditioned transport
  • 01 bottle of mineral water per person per day
  • Expert English-speaking local guide for sightseeing tours
  • Assistance & Porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels by le passage to India representative
  • Kathakali dance show in Cochin
  • Tea Garden visit in Munnar
  • Spice Garden visit in Periyar
  • Jungle walk in Periyar
  • Govt. service taxes

Not included

  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Personal expenses, such as table drinks, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees etc.
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and hotel staff
  • Optional excursions